Poliomyelitis or poliovirus is a virus infection first discovered back in 1908. The virus infection mainly spread over areas with poor sanitation, usually through human feces or contaminated water. Three main types of poliovirus are discovered so far, and they are scientifically different from one another. However, all 3 of them have the same symptoms, i.e., muscle paralysis. When the disease infects the breathing muscles, then polio can even result in death. Children under the age of 5 are the most susceptible population to poliovirus infection, and Type 1 polio strains are the most commonly occurring type of the virus.
Type 2 polio was declared eradicated back in 2015, and experts have now reported that the type 3 polio strain is also wholly eliminated as no new cases of type 3 polio was detected in the last seven years. Despite such a huge milestone, the virus still exists out there in the form of type 1 poliovirus, which has its presence mainly in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Other countries with type 1 polio outbreaks are Angola, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Togo, Ghana, Zambia, and Nigeria. The most recent poliovirus endemic was reported in Nigeria, that too, back in 2016.
Polio vaccination is the best sort of defense against the virus, and usually, four doses of the vaccine are given to children between the age of two months and six years. Not getting vaccination shots in due time and lack of sanitation in the surroundings are two significant reasons for the continued existence of the poliovirus. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said during his World Polio Day speech that even though eradicating type 2 and type 3 poliovirus is an excellent milestone in completely removing the presence of the virus, it is the responsibility of countries around the world where the poliovirus still exists, to provide children with timely and effective polio vaccination to ensure complete eradication of even the type 1 poliovirus, thus eliminating the poliovirus in all its forms, from the surface of the earth.